News and Commentary

A North Carolina Man And His 16 House Cats Are Suing Their County Over Alleged Civil Rights Violations
Close-Up Of Cat Wearing Sunglasses - stock photo
Atipati Netiniyom / EyeEm via Getty Images

Today in strange cat legal news:

North Carolina man Damon Fields is suing Gaston County, alleging his and his 16 house cats’ civil rights were violated.

His cats are named as complainants in the lawsuit, listed as “Boo Loo,” “Tony Tiger,” “Girlfriend Sara,” “Buh Buh Logan,” “Sillygirl Sally,” “Rascal Russell,” and others, The Charlotte Observer reported. The outlet reported that the 16 cats were seized in early November from Fields’ Cherryville home based on a complaint from a neighbor.

“The courthouse cat fight dates back to Nov. 5, when animal control officers responded to a neighbor’s complaint and searched Fields’ small ranch home, a home that Assistant Gaston County Attorney Sam Shames says reeked so badly of cat pee that investigators had to don masks before entering. Inside, Shames says, the officers tip-toed around ‘an incredibly large amount’ of cat poop. They left with 16 cats, including five kittens,” the outlet reported.

Fields was charged with 16 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, the Observer reported.

“The county also started a $20-a-day tab on the cost of housing, feeding and caring for each of the animals, a bill that reached more than $10,000 after 30 days,” the outlet reported.

Fields had the charges put on hold thanks to a deferred-prosecution plan that was set up in mid-December and approved by a Gaston County judge. The bill for the animals was also waived so long as Fields keeps no more than five cats in his home.

Fields was told to pick five cats to take home from the animal shelter and was required to have them sterilized. The remaining 11 would be put up for adoption, provided they passed medical inspections. Fields, 37, was also told at the time that animal control must be able to inspect his home at various times over the next six months, the Observer reported.

“Nobody is trying to put this guy in jail. That would not accomplish very much,” Shames said, according to the outlet. “We’re trying to get him the help that he needs.”

It appeared as though Fields had accepted the terms, but two weeks later his lawsuit appeared in Charlotte federal court.

“My family and I were denied the right to have a fair trial, before we were accused and taken and stuffed in a box/cell/cage,” Fields wrote in his complaint, which was reviewed by the Observer.

Fields is now demanding that all his cats be returned and that the county provide him $2,500 in damages “for the injuries and emotional damages to my babies and myself.” He also wants the legal system to acknowledge that cats have rights.

Fields said that his home was in the state in which it was found because he had been in the hospital following surgery after a car accident.

Shames told the Observer that its reporter “ruined” his day, as he was not expecting Fields to file such a lawsuit.

“I have never seen a cat listed as a party to a federal lawsuit. This case has a very unusual set of facts,” he said.

Cats seem to be showing up in a number of legal cases. In September, The Daily Wire reported on the detention of Bones, an outdoor cat who wandered into a neighbor’s home, making them think a burglar was in the house. And then there’s Miska, who’s human filed a lawsuit to try and get the thousands of dollars worth of fines levied against the roaming feline dropped.